Voices Convenes Press Conference to Challenge Proposed Budget Cuts

Vermonters Say Enough is Enough: Stop Balancing the Budget on the Backs of the Most Vulnerable of Us

Montpelier – On Tuesday Vermonters shared their stories about the debilitating impacts the governor’s proposed budget will have on their lives.  Lisa Maynes, mother of two children, one of whom has a lifelong disability, explained how the proposed cuts will make it harder for her to pull herself out of poverty:

“Governor Douglas has stated his desire to reduce poverty in Vermont.  If I get hit with these cuts – I can promise you I will need more help.  Sooner or later my teeth will become too painful to stand.  Reduction of Personal Care Attendants for my child will force me to cut back or perhaps even stop working. And sadly, my plan, vision, and dream to rise out of poverty and give back to the state will be at risk of never happening.”

Bonnie Beede explained how programs like Reach Up have helped her secure reliable transportation so that she can get to work – a “lifeline” for her family living in rural Vermont.  The governor’s budget proposes to cut Reach Up support services by 20 percent. This supposed savings could drive people to need more emergency services that cost more. “We can’t afford to have these programs taken away, and neither can a lot of other families who are working hard just to get by”, said Bonnie.

Harold Nadeau shared how cuts to programs that build accessibility ramps for seniors and individuals with disabilities will mean more people will be unable to live independently in their homes, costing more in the long run.  “These cuts don’t make any sense.  It costs $15,000 just once to modify a home. It costs $60,000 a year to send someone to a nursing home.”

Calling these stories a “wake-up call”, advocacy organizations including Vermont Legal Aid, the Post-Adoption Consortium, the Community of Vermont Elders, the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security, the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, the Vermont AIDS Service Organization, the Vermont Association of Adult Day Services and Voices for Vermont’s Children put forth an alternative path to balancing the budget: an income tax increase like the one Governor Snelling enacted during the recession of the early 1990s.

Since the start of the economic downturn, the state has made $4 in cuts for every $1 in revenue it raised.  Sheila Reed of Voices for Vermont’s Children explained that a temporary income tax increase is necessary to raise some revenue and help make sure we get through this tough time without making it harder on those among us who can least afford it.  “We’ve heard our state’s leaders say again and again that they will not raise taxes this year.  We challenge them to change their mind.  We challenge them to ask Vermont’s wealthier citizens to step up to the plate and, temporarily, to share some of the sacrifice for the good of all,” said Reed.

For coverage of the press conference in the news, see:

VPR News: Human Service Advocates Call for Tax Increases

Times Argus: Disabilities Advocates Bemoan Cuts